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March 30, 2010

Paul Winstanley: Advancements on the Horizon in Green IT

Paul Winstanley, Green InitiativesAccording to the Climate Savers Computer Initiative, energy costs typically represent about 10% of an IT budget. While businesses have long realized financial impact, there have traditionally been insufficient alternatives. Fortunately, a shift in corporate behavior combined with new technology is ushering in a new and dramatically improved era of Green IT.

These developments are highlighted by Mary K. Pratt in a recent article appearing on Computerworld.com. In it, she consults Paul Winstanley, Director of Energy Initiatives at Stevens Institute of Technology to analyze the energy efficiency in traditional IT systems.

"IT is very, very inefficient in how it utilizes energy," he says. Computers, servers and other equipment are powered nearly constantly, even when not needed, generating huge amounts of wasted electricity.

Winstanley believes one method of improvement involves, “computers that can boot up very rapidly after being turned on. That capability could save energy because a computer that's off, most experts agree, is more efficient than one that's in sleep mode, and users wouldn't be as reluctant to turn their machines off if they didn't have to wait so long for them to come back on.”

Another promising new technology is what's known as cognition detection. Still a year or more away, cognition detection systems will recognize and react to demand, cutting energy consumption by automatically powering up to meet demand and scaling back once the demand has abated, Winstanley explains. "The whole area of cognition detection is going to be one of the big areas within IT, whereby there will be some substantial power savings gained," he says.

Consider, for instance, the way Wi-Fi sends out omnidirectional signals, even if there's no demand required from every direction. "I'm radiating power needlessly, and I can never recoup that power," Winstanley says. In the future, technology will be able to direct Wi-Fi signals only where and when there's a demand.

The article goes on to discuss possible improvements in areas ranging from:

  • Optimizing equipment in data centers
  • Solar powered computers that scavenge the environment for ambient energy
  • Cloud computing
  • Data life-cycle management

To read the full article, please visit Computerworld.com.

Learn more about the green opportunities at Stevens by visiting Green@Stevens!

 
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